The Ten Thousand Doors of Januaryby Published 10 Sep 2019
|The Ten Thousand Doors of January.pdf|
In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.
In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.
Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.
Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.
The Ten Thousand Doors of January Reviews
You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.
Actual rating: way more than 5 stars.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher (Orbit/Redhook) in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
“Listen, not every story is made for telling. Sometimes just by telling a story you’re stealing it, stealing a little of the mystery away from it.”
The Ten Thousand Doors of January is quite possibly the most achingly beautiful novel I’ve ever read, and I find it mind-boggling that anything this lovely could possibly be a debut novel. There are a scant handful of novels I’ve experienced in my life (The Name of the Wind, The Resurrection of Joan Ashby, and The Night Circus come to mind) that were breathtaking debuts of this caliber, and they remain my very favorite books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. I’m so incredibly happy to add Alix E. Harrow’s novel to that list.
“If we address stories as archeological sites, and dust through their layers with meticulous care, we find at some level there is always a doorway. A dividing point between here and there, mundane and magical. It is at the moment when the doors open, when things flow between worlds, that stories happen.”
As soon as the synopsis and cover art (isn’t that cover almost painfully pretty?) for this book became public, Ten Thousand Doors immediately catapulted to my most anticipated book of 2019. I preordered it for my birthday in February, even though it’s not scheduled to be released until September. Imagine my delight when, less than a week ago, I returned home from church to find an envelope featuring this book’s stunning artwork waiting for me on my doorstep. I’ve never received a more beautiful ARC, and this is the first time I have ever seen a galley delivered in special packaging such as I saw on my stoop. My husband laughed when I darted out of the car before it was even fully in park, leaving my phone and house key and everything else in the vehicle because I was so insanely excited. I tried desperately to pace myself, trying not to read more than 50 pages or so per day so that the book would last as long as possible. Alas, I was hopelessly incapable of sticking to that pace and found the story drawing to a close far too quickly.
“You see, doors are many things: fissures and cracks, ways between, mysteries and borders. But more than anything else, doors are change.”
When you have such a high level of excitement going into a book, it’s very hard to temper your expectations and not be disappointed. And yet, I never once felt disappointed in Ten Thousand Doors. From page one, I fell in love with January Scaller. When we first meet January, she is seven years old and, though her father is living, finds herself being raised by Mr. Locke, his benefactor, as her father travels the world, searching for exotic treasures to bring back to his employer. January is wild and sullen and headstrong and oddly colored, an unfortunate circumstance considering the time and place in which she lives. Worst of all, she’s imaginative. Throughout her childhood years, she is herded and tamed into submission by Mr. Locke and militant nursemaids, and sees less and less of her father. But though she has been bent by her benefactor, she has managed to remain unbroken, and finds many opportunities to test and marvel at the strength of her own character.
“I escaped outdoors (see how that word slips into even the most mundane of sentences? Sometimes I feel there are doors lurking in the creases of every sentence, with periods for knobs and verbs for hinges).”
What I loved the most about January was how alive she seemed. From the very beginning, she had an incredibly strong, distinctive voice, and an open honesty to her character that made her wonderfully believable. She’s far from perfect, and that’s what makes her so engaging. The amount of character development packed into less than 400 pages is astounding. I loved watching this fiery little girl grow into a woman and recapture that spark that had been smothered within her. January has also been blessed with a trio of amazing friends who will do anything in their power to aid her on her quest. I don’t want to describe them and inadvertently take anything away from the reading experiences of others, so I’ll just say that they’re all three brave and loyal and steadfast, but in radically different ways. I’m so impressed that Harrow was able to imbue even her side characters with such heaping amounts of personality and believability.
“At this point, you’re thinking that this story isn’t really about Doors, but about those more private, altogether more miraculous doors that can open between two hearts. Perhaps it is in the end—I happen to believe that every story is a love story if you catch it at the right moment, slantwise in the light of dusk—but it wasn’t then.”
Something else that I loved about this book was its duality. Though January is our protagonist, we also trek right along with her as she reads through a magical book that she found in an antique trunk. The chapters of said magical book are very different in tone and voice than January’s chapters, and I thoroughly enjoyed this added variance. January’s insatiable need to see how that story ended increased my own desire to continue reading. I felt that the author and purpose of the little book were both a bit obvious, but that they were meant to be so, which ensured that the predictability of that particular information couldn’t be in any way disappointing.
“If you are wondering why other worlds seem so brimful of magic compared to your own dreary Earth, consider how magical this world seems from another perspective.”
Between the magical book and the otherworldly Doors mentioned in the title, I was strongly reminded of two books that I adore: Inkheart and Every Heart a Doorway. However, as much as I dearly love the two aforementioned titles, The Ten Thousand Doors of January surpassed them both in my eyes by intermingling the things I love so much about both. As with Inkheart, Ten Thousand Doors makes much of not only books but the words with which they’re crafted. And, as with Every Heart a Doorway, there are magical portals to a multitude of realms, hidden behind and beneath the mundane, and the search for these Doors is an all-consuming quest for certain characters involved. I won’t talk more about January’s Doors, as they are the backbone of her story and readers should learn about these portals as they read, but I love the entire idea of them and desperately wish I could find one of my own, and found them even more enticing than those in McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway.
“Worlds are too complex, too beautifully fractured to be named.”
Though I loved January and her friends, and I rooted for them as they faced down their foes, that was not my favorite element of this novel. And though the plot was everything I could hope for and more, keeping me enthralled and remaining at the forefront of my mind far after I had closed its pages, that was not my favorite aspect, either. The thing I loved most about this book was the absolutely exquisite prose. Harrow is more than an author; she is a Wordsmith, a sorceress wielding a pen in place of a wand. Her writing is effortlessly stunning and unconsciously literary. I’ve read a lot of literary fiction, and fantasy, and literary fiction trying to also be fantasy. I have found very few novels that managed to bridge the gap from literary fiction to fantasy in a compelling and convincing way, though I have found many fantasy authors who, in my opinion, can hold their own with any literary author. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is one of a mere handful of books that I’ve come across that could sit comfortably in either the literary or fantasy genre, and I think it beautifully combines both.
“Doors, he told her, are change, and change is a dangerous necessity. Doors are revolutions and upheavals, uncertainties and mysteries, axis points around which entire worlds can be turned. They are the beginnings and ending of every true story, the passages between that lead to adventures and madness and—here he smiled—even love. Without doors the world’s would grow stagnant, calcified, storyless.”
Not only does Harrow have a gorgeous way with words, but she appreciates the building blocks of language in a way that I’ve rarely if ever seen in fiction. Something she did that I felt was incredibly unique was drawing attention to letters themselves. When a word is important, you capitalize it. And when you capitalize a word, that first letter suddenly becomes a representation of that word. At least, that is what Harrow points out through the eyes and mind of January. For example, when you capitalize the first letter of Villain, doesn’t that V speak of daggers and fangs? That’s what January thinks. When you read this book, which I desperately hope you will, watch for explanations of words like Door and Threshold, Companion and Home. They were such beautiful ideas that my heart kept them, and I know they will come back to me every time I come across these words.
Worlds were never meant to be prisons, locked and suffocating and safe. Worlds were supposed to be great rambling houses with all the windows thrown open and the wind and summer rain rushing through them, with magic passages in their closets and secret treasure chests in their attics.”
This is among the longest reviews I’ve ever written, and I still feel that I haven’t said enough. Or perhaps I’ve said too much. In either case, I hope I was able to convey how much I adore this book, and how deeply it touched me. For the first time in my adult life, I’m honestly contemplating rereading a book immediately, or at least within the same year. Maybe I’ll hold out until release day, and experience it again when I receive my preordered copy. I haven’t read a book twice in one year since I was in middle school. I can already tell that January is going to be one of my dearest friends, and that I’ll be revisiting her often. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is a marvel, and I can’t wait for the world to read it.
The quotations in the review above were taken from an advance reading copy and are subject to change upon the book's publication.
Seeing the cover? - Want it!
Seeing the synopsis? - Need it!
Realising it is about escaping the reality? - Well, run a DNA test cuz I and this book relate for sure
ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review.
Gorgeous and magical; it’s not a stretch to call The Ten Thousand Doors of January a magnificent physical manifestation of a grimoire.
Orbit did it again. The Ten Thousand Doors of January has shot to the top of my TBR since the moment I saw the cover and heard about the premise; I was charmed and can safely say that I don’t think I’ve read many books as beautifully written as this novel. I’ve been saying this over and over again for a while now; when it comes to modern SFF debuts, just read everything that Orbit publishes. SFF books published by Orbit these days has a strong chance to satisfy your reading preferences and this novel amplified that notion. I would also like to give a shout out to Emily Byron, who made sure this book reached me for my review, and Maddie Hall, the one in charge of the design behind the ARC packaging of this book; easily the most beautiful ARC package I’ve ever received.
Picture: My ARC of The Ten Thousand Doors of January
The Ten Thousand Doors of January revolves around January Scaller. January was seven years old when she first found a Door. Years later, January starts forgetting about her brief encounter with that Door, until one day she stumbles upon a book. Reading the book changes everything as she begins to discover the truths and revelations surrounding her worlds, and the Door she found when she was a kid. This is not an action-packed book; if you read this book expecting warfare and intricate battle scenes, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Instead of filling the pages with action and brutality, Harrow opted for dazzling readers with everlasting stories of wonder brimming with a nostalgic and elegant atmosphere. This is a novel about a book, about stories, and about escapism.
“How fitting, that the most terrifying time in my life should require me to do what I do best: escape into a book.”
I truly believe that escapism, for me, is not only a want but a necessity. Whether this is in the form of video games, movies, or reading; they’re all a form of art that makes our harsh realities saner and more livable. The Ten Thousand Doors of January felt like a letter written by a voracious reader to another reader. From the very first page, I was immediately struck with the notion that this book will resonate a lot with me and each page gradually continued to strongly enhance that early impression. I just can’t help but say that this is a book that must be read by most readers as long that you’re okay with not having battle scenes in your stories.
“He consumed books as if they were as necessary to his health as bread and water, but they were rarely the books he had been assigned.”
Harrow implemented the importance of stories into the plot wonderfully. Family, love, and adventures were also some of the main themes contained in the novel. A book has the power to change a reader’s perception; to be more open-minded and knowledgeable; to experience adventure and transport us to a different world; reading or writing is magic and many of us are capable of it.
“Books can smell of cheap thrills or painstaking scholarship, of literary weight or unsolved mysteries. This one smelled unlike any book I’d ever held… It smelled like adventure itself had been harvested in the wild, distilled to a fine wine, and splashed across each page.”
As someone who’s born in January, I found the main character and the meaning behind her name to be a huge plus of the book. This doesn’t mean that you HAVE to be born in January to appreciate it. Names have a power, a meaning, and life of its own; these were discussed within the book and I enjoyed reading them all. Most importantly, January is a heroine that resonated with me. There weren’t a lot of characters, but I found the characterizations splendidly written. Each character has a distinctive personality and attitude that felt genuine and flawed.
“It’s a profoundly strange feeling, to stumble across someone whose desires are shaped so closely to your own, like reaching toward your reflection in a mirror and finding warm flesh under your fingertips. If you should ever be lucky enough to find that magical, fearful symmetry, I hope you’re brave enough to grab it with both hands and not let go.”
If you’ve seen reviews of this book before, you’ll probably notice that the majority of them—whether they loved the book or not overall—agreed that the prose is beautiful; I definitely agree with this statement with all my heart. Seriously, Harrow has a highly-polished prose that totally didn’t feel like a debut effort. The prose was lush, lyrical, enchanting, gorgeous, and immersive. This novel marks the dawn of a new fantasy author with immaculate prose that’s very rare to find in the genre. The contemplative and philosophical nature of the writing made me wish I can tell you all the resplendent phrases I’ve stumbled upon. Words easily translated into imagery; every locale and scene were visualized in my head. I’m in disbelief that this is a debut, the author has such an immense subjugation over the structure of words. I can’t wait for you to find out how spectacularly written this book was.
“Words and their meanings have weight the world of matter, shaping and reshaping realities through a most ancient alchemy. Even my own writings—so damnably powerless—may have just enough power to reach the right person and tell the right truth, and change the nature of things.”
Alluring passages comprising meticulously chosen words were conjured and evident in every page; Harrow exhibited storytelling skill that gives justice to the saying that the pen is mightier than the sword. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is one of the most beautifully-written debuts I’ve ever read; a big contender for the new tale as old as time, and a must-read fantasy book for every reader who loves books and enjoys reading a superb elaboration of stories and escapism. Every story opens a door, and every door opens a story. Once you opened the door behind the cover of this book, you’ll be happily compelled to search every nook and cranny of the story before you’re able to close the door again. An eternal charm lies in January’s adventure, and believe me when I say that you need to get the key to open the magic door called The Ten Thousand Doors of January as soon as possible.
“Let that be a lesson to you: if you are too good and too quiet for too long, it will cost you. It will always cost, in the end.”
Official release date: September 12th, 2019 (UK) and September 10th, 2019 (US)
You can pre-order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)
The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions
5 thousand stars first for wonderful, amazing illustration on the cover and five thousand stars go for rest of the heart throbbing, one of the most creative, colorful, joyful journeys to many different imaginary portals you can never imagine to visit!
FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELT, OPEN YOUR EYES, READY TO COUNT TO 10 THOUSAND!
This is amazing combination of McGuire’s Wayward Children Series and Stephen King’s Dark Tower series!
BLURB: Seven years old January’s revelation of finding a door opens to Faerie, Atlantis, Valhalla, and the places never found on a map. Of course I’m intrigued and wanted to learn more!
HEROINE: January is definitely; brave, witty, sarcastic, loyal, gifted, young heroine. It’s enjoyable how she compares herself with regular book heroines with her great sense of humor!
FAVORITE CHARACTERS: Of course the badass, loyal, brave dog!
SUPPORTING CHARACTERS: Mr. Locke, blood freezing, teeth grinding, nerve bending villain who deserves to be putted on a dart chart so you can be more concentrated to hit the target!
Jane is memorable Amazon woman! Straightforward, tough, protector.
Samuel: sweet, loyal, romantic, impossible not to love and care for!
And January’s parents and their love story are definitely heartbreaking! I sighed so many times when I’m reading their parts!
WRITING STYLE: Pacing was not fast but not too slow! It keeps your attention alert and hooked you from the first page, you don’t want to stop, want to learn more and more till your head starts to turn because you passed your sleep time five hours ago and you start to see the sunrise and you realize it’s too late to go to the bed so you’d better finish the book!
ENDING: When I close a book and see my smile like Cheshire cat cover my face all night, it means I’m so satisfied with the ending. So yes! It’s the best emotional, joyful, smart ending to this unconventional, creative, well-crafted, remarkable story!
FANTASY LOVERS, GOOD STORY CHASERS, PORTAL TRAVELERS, this book is highly recommended for you!
Make sure that you are adequately hydrated before you read this book!!!!! So you can CRY when it's over!!!!!
I just finished reading and I feel like the world had just shifted a few degrees on its axis. I'm snatching at something to say, grasping for anything to make you wanna read this book, and sentence by sentence it all evades me. I feel that with every word I put down, I'm writing myself further from what I meant to say.
Just. Please read this book, open its door, step on its threshold—I promise that what lies beyond is a world worth getting lost in.
full review to come